Thursday, December 01, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #27!

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-six.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Firebreather was originally the son of Fin Fang Foom

STATUS: True

In an interview with Andrea Speed, Phil Hester (who just had a cool chat at Comic Book Resources, natch) talked about the plans HE had for a title that was to star, oddly enough, "Young Avengers,"
I don't believe for a second anyone ripped us off. Our whole pitch was about AIM cloning super heroes (Captain America= Crusader, Wolverine=Foxclaw, Scarlet Witch=Mystere, She-Hulk=Dakota, The Thing=Bronze) in an attempt to study their weaknesses, etc. AIM even went so far as to dupe them into forming a super group so they could analyze the group dynamics. Of course, the kids get away and fight back. I think it probably has more in common, at least in tone, with Runaways.

Marvel was hot for it, but pulled the plug for some reason. At least Kuhn and I took one of the villains we developed, a teen aged son of Fin Fang Foom and redeveloped it as Firebreather, which we just optioned to Paramount. So all's well!
All's well, indeed! I thought Firebreather was a fun book.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Devin Grayson named herself after Dick Grayson.

Writer of Nightwing (starring Dick GRAYSON), Devin Grayson has never hid her admiration for the character of Dick Grayson. So upon hearing that her name (Devin Kallie Grayson) is NOT the name that she was born with, it is not surprising that people would presume that perhaps that her name came from the character that she has such a predisposition to.

Grayson, in an interview at Alvaro's Comic Boards, set the record straight:
Devin Kalile Grayson is my real and legal name. It's what's on my driver's license, passport, social security, etc. I've never written under a pseudonym. I was born with a different name, but had it legally changed in my early twenties - well before I was working in comics or even thinking about such - in response to sexual abuse issues in my childhood that made me feel like I needed to distance myself from my past a little bit psychologically. I told this to Wizard magazine when they interviewed me for the very first time something like seven years ago and said they could run that as part of the story as long as they were willing to include some phone numbers for national sexual abuse hotlines, but they didn't want the piece to be a "downer."

I guess someone got the rumor into circulation without the context, and that actually has been a little painful for me, just since the whole idea was to move on from that part of my life, and now I get constantly asked about it. Believe me, if I'd known I'd be writing Bat-books someday, I would have picked a different last name.


STATUS: False

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne's 2112 was initially designed as a launch of Marvel 2099.

STATUS: True

Over on his forums, John Byrne described the situation as it unfolded as thus:
In 1990, Stan Lee contacted me and asked me if I would like the be "editor-in-chief" of a whole new line he was going to create at Marvel -- a line which would be set in Marvel's future, unconnected to the Marvel Universe as we knew it. As it happened, I had been giving some thought to a "Futureverse" of my own, and, being flattered by Stan's offer, I suggested that what I had come up with (but at that time thought I had no place to develop) would fit the bill for his project. To this end I plotted (Stan was to script) and drew a 64 page "pilot".

When Stan saw the pilot pages he asked for more specific MU references. I'd tried to keep the thing "clean", so as not to turn the whole MU into a Superboy story, but Stan thought we SHOULD at least HINT at what had happened to some of the folk we knew from the present continuity. Fortunately, since my story was told in the 64 pages, this meant only adding some 12 additional pages and some bridging material to make them fit. Thus, when I took the project back it was, luckily, not a case of re-writing or re-drawing, but simply of removing pages I had not wanted in there in the first place. I'd taken a set of concepts, bent them slightly to fit Stan's needs, and then had only to "unbend" them to get back to my own original material. Stuck with 64 pages and no thought of where to put 'em -- I did not want to offer the book to DC, since that seemed vaguely scabrous somehow -- I mentioned my dilemma to Roger Stern, who suggested I give DarkHorse a call. I did. They accepted the proposal with open arms. I also pitched NEXT MEN, which had been floating in my brain for a while, and which they also liked. I then realized the tiniest bit of tweaking in the dialog would make my graphic novel -- now titled 2112 -- into a prequel/sequel pilot for JBNM.
Imagine how THAT would have turned out? We might have been saved from the ravages of Ravage 2099!!

Okay, folks, that's it for this week!

Thanks for stopping by!

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28 Comments:

Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

On the other hand, would we have gotten Warren Ellis's run on Doom 2099 - easily the greatest depiction of the character? Those are definitely Comics You Should Buy. Where's the Absolute Overlord when I need him!

12/01/2005 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Not to mention Peter David's Spider-Man 2099 and John Francis Moore's X-Men 2099. Those three easily make up for the clunkers the line produced.

12/01/2005 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Ellis on Doom 2099? I don't have them, so it looks like a trip to the back issue bins is in order! Thanks a lot, Lungfish - like I need to spend more money on comics.

12/01/2005 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I'm the only one who liked Ravage, wasn't I?

Perhaps 'twas a folly of youth.

12/01/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Someone had to, Bill.

And boy, mean to say, but the more I learn about Devin Grayson, the more she fits my personal stereotype of "fanfic girl."

12/01/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

"well before I was working in comics or even thinking about such"

Does "such" mean "writing about comics" or "comics?" Because if it means the former, that quote doesn't say anything ruling out the possibility that she chose "Grayson" because of Dick Grayson - just that she didn't think she'd end up writing him, so that wasn't the catalyst. The defining feature of Dick's personality seems to be that he had a horrible childhood, too, which might make it appealing.

12/01/2005 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

12/01/2005 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

How humiliating for me, to lack the sufficient familiarity with the Devin Grayson Interview Canon to figure out how or why that excerpt established where her name did or didn't come from! Ouch.

I'm still a little unclear on her timeline. The Batman: Animated Series moment seems, from her bio, to have come not too long after her graduation from college, and have come maybe two years before she started writing comics in 1997. Does anyone have a specific idea of how old she is? Over or under 35?

This is all inconsequential trivia about a writer I'm not really interested in anyway, but I'm still struggling to puzzle it all out. Her wikipedia stub acknowledges that there were non-comics motivations for the name change but still claims it's after Dick Grayson.

12/01/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

Let me second the Doom 2099 recommendation. Along with Hellstorm & Excalibur, it made me an Ellis fan.

Devin Grayson is not one of my favorite writers (although I liked User & Gotham Knights), but I feel she has the right to call herself whatever she wants for whatever reason she wants, and I don't feel it's fair to criticize her for it.

12/01/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"How humiliating for me, to lack the sufficient familiarity with the Devin Grayson Interview Canon to figure out how or why that excerpt established where her name did or didn't come from! Ouch."

I think it is worse to have kept reading her interviews!!!

I keep expecting her to say something interesting.

I am too optimistic.

12/01/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"This is all inconsequential trivia about a writer I'm not really interested in anyway, but I'm still struggling to puzzle it all out. Her wikipedia stub acknowledges that there were non-comics motivations for the name change but still claims it's after Dick Grayson."

The problem with Wikipedia as I understand it is that it's largely written by regular users, so although it's often accurate, if an urban legend is widespread enough it can often make it into a stub too. So maybe that's why it sticks to the "named after Nightwing" story. I dunno...

And Brian, I disagree, Grayson's interviews are often quite interesting, but for all the wrong reasons. She's bisexual, and her attempts to psychoanalyze Dick Grayson in interviews and prove that he's bisexual too is transference at its worst. Most of her interviews that focus on the psychology of characters can often be disturbing. The ones that focus on the writing craft are usually the snoozers.

12/01/2005 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Fair point, T.

I guess I meant "good."

12/01/2005 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

Yeah, I've seen wikipedia include urban legend-y stuff before, so it could be wrong. I remain skeptical, though, that the whole Grayson thing was a total coincidence for her.

These comments led me to actually look at some interviews with her and... well, I don't know what to say. Talk about a weird, weird relationship to the characters she's writing. I haven't read much by her, so I don't know for sure what the results are usually like. It doesn't seem, though, that it's really ideal. She seems basically chained to all these weird intuitive psychological conclusions she reaches about the characters - most of which do seem like they have very little basis beyond whatever she's thinking about at the time.

What are most of her stories like? Lots of ruminating?

12/01/2005 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"These comments led me to actually look at some interviews with her and... well, I don't know what to say"

Oh good, so you've seen her mention how she was never into reading comics, right?

I'm telling you, it's like, every interview she gives, she mentions it!

12/01/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She seems basically chained to all these weird intuitive psychological conclusions she reaches about the characters - most of which do seem like they have very little basis beyond whatever she's thinking about at the time. "

As if comics wasn't full of people who have weird kinks and quirks and fetishes that end up in the art and writing.

12/01/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"As if comics wasn't full of people who have weird kinks and quirks and fetishes that end up in the art and writing."

Completely fair point.

I, myself, have never had a problem with any "kink or quirk" of Grayson showing up in the comics.

I think, though, that occasionally (much more now than in her early work) she just writes bad comics.

Which is too bad for me, as I was a huge fan of hers for years.

12/01/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

yeah, I have no problem with quirks or fetishes of comic writers either, as long as they write good stories to balance said quirks and fetishes. Claremont had a lot of implied kinkiness, bondage, S&M and homoeroticism in his work, but it was overshadowed by his good writing (at least in the 70s and 80s). Like Brian, I was a Devin Grayson fan too when she first started, but now her quality has severely declined.

I think she's like Chuck Austen: if it's only a one-shot or miniseries they can do great work, but over a prolonged run their flaws become glaringly apparent.

12/01/2005 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I don't think I've ever read a Devin Grayson comic. Anyway...

How about checking up on this one. I heard that the bods that make 2000ad had put together and printed a Complete Zenith tpb, but due to a "rights issue", these books have been quietly rotting away in a warehouse in London.

Now, I'm pretty sure that the bit about the books being printed then withheld is true, but I've never seen any clarification on what exactly the rights issue is/was. Is it between Morrison and 2000ad? Or is it between the owners of the IPC characters (who appear in the story) and 2000ad? Between Hamlyn (who were publishing the tpbs at the time-this is before the DC deal) and 2000ad?

12/02/2005 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Ravage 2099 is dreadful. Just really, really bad. I read it earlier this year (yes, all of it) when I went through a 2099 kick and bought like every backissue that my comic store had (the owner was really amused that anyone was buying them at all and gave me piles of stuff for not very much).
it's vaguely amusing how it just flails around trying to find a direction.
"he's an ecowarrior! no! he's a hideous mutant! no! corporate espionage (and hideous sometimes)! no! cross country trip to find himself (and there's a giant bat!)! no! the giant telepathic bat is dead! no! it's alive again! no! he's the choosen one destined to find something! no! we're being cancelled, lets' at least tie up that first plot thread... DOOM!" and then doom comes in and just kills everyone.

spiderman 2099 is awesome though.
doom 2099 is pretty fun (even before ellis came on, I didn't see how this one ended though)
ghost rider 2099 seemed pretty good too. (though I only read like 12 issues).

I didn't read enough of the others to really get a feel for them.
Here's a link to some reviews I did (before I got the complete runs of spiderman and ravage)
http://meanwhilecomics.blogspot.com/2005/04/2099.html

12/02/2005 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanna write a Green Lantern comic someday. I think I'll change my name to H.L. Jordan. :)

- Stealthwise

12/03/2005 09:07:00 PM  
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